I recently stumbled on an article by Chigozie Obioma in the online publication Foreign Policy titled ‘There Are No Successful Black Nations‘. In it, the author eloquently examines the core reason why black people have remained synonymous with ‘the denigrating experience of racism’, and inexorably concludes that no African (or Caribbean) country has sufficiently washed its hands, proverbially speaking.
In the wake of the ongoing ravaging pandemic, we have been treated to videos and reports of cruelty meted out to our kin in China. There have been consequences for our hosts to be sure, from social media outrage, and even to some diplomatic rumbling. Unfortunately, it all mostly amounts to Mickey Mouse outrage, to borrow from Prof. Lumumba.
We know it, and the Chinese know it. Social media brouhaha is just that- toothless virtual ramblings (as a result of which I do not ever take offence at Facebook insults). In the thrashing of Chinese interests in Nigeria, there is the predicament of having to choose between a bruised ego on the one hand, and life on the breadline for countless people on the other.
The most awkward moment was a recorded exchange between a brave albeit naïve Nigerian diplomat and Chinese officials. Let the reader imagine himself for a time as one of the Chinese officials. The cologne from representatives of the Nigerian’s government who came to Beijing to beg for money while the Nigerian diplomat was gyrating in nationalistic fervor.
If that was not enough the same government was on Twitter begging a private businessman for ventilators, even though they managed to find enough money to buy SUVs for the lawmakers. It is testament to the discipline of the Chinese that these men did not burst out in derisive laughter.
WE cannot begrudge the people the respect they enjoy today. They played the long game, ground through the process, and are today smiling at the other end. During our own journey as a people towards finding our own feet, we must be careful with whom we make common cause. Racism is not always segregation, or lynching, or apartheid. It sometimes takes the form of someone making apocalyptic prognostications about corona virus in Africa even when the continent is yet to record a single case.
At the other end, the Igbo say that a man who has been told to go repair his father’s compound has not been insulted. Implied is that the man who calls your country a ‘shithole’ might actually be doing you a favor, an important nuance to keep in mind.
This call to build our motherland is urgent as it ever was. We do not all have to be revolutionaries or politicians. There are, for example, more Nigerian doctors in California than there are consultants in all of Nigeria. The patriotic thing to do would be to pool resources and deliver care in Nigeria on par with what they do in Europe and America. The monetary rewards will be far less, but the legacy they will leave in the annals will be set in stone. That no amount of money could ever buy. A similar feat will have to be replicated across every industry possible.
Our political class is useless to us, so we are essentially on our own in this onerous undertaking. However with fortitude, purpose, and a bit of luck, there is no telling what we could do. The generation of our fathers is lost already- it now lies with us to do what is necessary. Otherwise we will have consigned our children by omission to penile servitude under those who have proven themselves to be our betters.